Castlemaine’s Jeremy Forbes has been awarded a Social Change Fellowship from the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation, to further his work with mental health organisation Hope Assistance Local Tradies.
Mr Forbes said the recognition was a shot in the arm for the organisation, which seeks to raise awareness about mental illness among tradespeople.
I’ve met amazing people who are inspiring and nourishing for the soul, they really keep me going.Jeremy Forbes
“What’s going to come out of this is a renewed belief in what I’m doing,” he said.
“The idea that an organisation such as Westpac would invest time, money and energy is a real confidence booster.
“It’s great to know that someone believes in what you’re doing.”
Mr Forbes said he would use the money to engage in a study tour of the United Kingdom, as well as a speaking tour of Victoria and suicide prevention training.
While in the UK, Mr Forbes said he would engage with local community based suicide prevention programs to see what lessons he could take back home.
“There’s a group called Suicide Safer London who I’m going over to meet with and talk with and hear about their experiences,” he said.
“To understand their methods and learn a bit more about what’s worked for them and bring that back to apply it to central Victoria,” he said.
Mr Forbes said the second pillar to his fellowship, the speaking tour of Victoria and southern New South Wales was “potentially the most important part”.
“While I’m at these towns I’m going to talk to the local council, politicians, businesses and individual tradies,” he said.
“Just talking about HALT and really raising the profile of HALT to a state level, letting people know what HALT’s doing.”
Mr Forbes said he was one of 100 scholars from around the country and one of 10 selected in the social change category, and said mixing with his fellow scholars had been a highlight of the experience.
“I’ve met amazing people who are inspiring and nourishing for the soul, they really keep me going,” he said.
Now Mr Forbes is encouraging other central Victorians to keep building their social change ideas, and even apply for a fellowship next year.
“I just think there’s other people in central Victoria who could also look forward to being able to apply for the fellowship and I'd really like them to,” he said.
“I'm always happy to mentor or talk to people about my experiences and try to get people who have those social change ideas get it to the level where they can apply for the fellowship.
“I just think it’s important to create networks where we can foster those ideas and push them through and help them grow.”